MARKET UPDATE – MAY 2023
Transpacific freight rates spent the entirety of May gradually sliding back down towards where they had seemingly plateaued over the course of March and April. However, despite the month-long decline, they still remain slightly above the price levels observed across the previous two months. At the end of May 2023, Asia-US West Coast dipped to $1,309, representing a 15% week-on-week decrease after the week prior had recorded a 7.7% week-on-week jump. Meanwhile, Asia-US East Coast rates rose slightly week-on-week to $2,328, a 0.3% increase from the week prior but a 7.5% decrease from the end of April.
Following three years of chaos in the shipping industry, carriers are finally beginning to see the pendulum swing back to favor the basics of supply chain management. Amidst an inflationary environment, streamlining operations, and the redeploying of supply chains in preparation for the inevitable economic expansion, we’ll likely see supply chain decision makers leverage multiple and varied strategies as the entire world settles into a post-pandemic new normal.
With the shipping industry evolving over the past three years to adapt to new circumstances and technologies, some newly developed habits are likely to remain post-pandemic whilst others will likely fade in obsoletion as supply chain actors re-adjust their strategies once again to suit a newly re-opened trading world. A notable progression in the industry over the pandemic era is the prominence of environmentally conscious initiatives and the focus on sustainable business practices. With an increasing amount of supply chain actors committing to reducing carbon emissions, waste, and meeting other environmental targets, Century’s May Market Update explores the work being done across the logistics industry to continue to focus on its sustainability initiatives in the post-pandemic climate.
Our updates are always published with the objective of helping you navigate the ongoing industry challenges and move freight at the right time and cost. We gather market intelligence from our global offices and provide you with a selection of the most relevant news related to ports, ocean freight, world trade and other information that may impact your supply chain operations.
As the re-opening of the world gained full participation from various origins and destinations in Q1 of 2023, the supply chain landscape is starting to finally resemble something close to that the pre-pandemic era (no restrictions, etc.). But does a return to a pre-pandemic landscape also mean that supply chain stakeholders should return to pre-pandemic strategies? Such a return wouldn’t necessarily mean disregarding the new technologies that have streamlined the procurement process and aided the analytical decision-making capabilities during the early 2020s, but perhaps rather the re-embracing of the foundations of supply chain management that were once so effective. Foundations, such as efficient cost management and strategic sourcing of suppliers now that the sourcing of materials has begun to re-standardize and offer increased choice via the complete removal of pandemic-related cross-border restrictions, are crucial in an increasingly volatile modern economy. Whichever strategy supply chain decision makers choose, it is imperative to be proactive in the current environment in order to remain ahead of the competition.
The return to the pre-pandemic environment is also occurring under the backdrop of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA), which was passed by Congress in June of 2022 to promote the growth and development of US exports through an ocean transportation system that is competitive, efficient, and economical. The act increases the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and requires them to investigate complaints about detention and demurrage charges, determine the reasonableness of the charges, and order refunds if applicable. Since the law was signed, the FMC’s formal complaints process has received 287 complaints in the first 10 months with over $1 million having already been returned to customers who disputed their ocean shipping charges. Most of the granted refunds have so far been for detention and demurrage billings, with alleged price-gouging and unreasonable charges which led to perceived excess freight costs being a typical theme for most claims. An interim procedure was introduced in December to resolve charge complaints, however, with an increasing amount of shippers pushing back against the claim, a more permanent process will be decided through a formal rulemaking process.
Another noticeable sign of supply chains heading towards an environment similar to that of the pre-pandemic era is the continuous improvement of container line schedule reliability. Carrier reliability has almost returned to 2019 levels following three years of unpredictable and unstable scheduling. A dramatic improvement in reliability during Q1 of 2023 has seen carriers now average at 58.3%, with schedule reliability in March of 2023 now on par with reliability in March of 2020 just before anti-pandemic measures were induced worldwide. The current schedule reliability sits at 24.9% higher than a year ago with all but one of the top 14 carriers posting a higher than 50% reliability score.
Schedule reliability of the top 14 carriers:
Source: Sea Intelligence
Similar to the positive trend in reliability, the average on-time performance for overall vessel arrivals has improved Y/Y by 2.88 days to just 1.7 days behind schedule, whilst the average degree of lateness specifically for vessels which arrived after their scheduled arrival time has improved Y/Y by 2.34 days, reducing to 5.23 days. Of the top 14 container lines, Maersk currently scores as the most reliable with 68.8%, whilst Yang Ming is the only carrier with a reliability score below 50%, scoring at 49.9%. MSC is the only carrier besides Maersk to score above 60% reliability, whilst the remaining 12 carriers, with the exception of Yang Ming, all scored between 50-60%. Amongst the carrier alliances, the big three recorded significant Y/Y schedule reliability improvements, with 2M and Ocean Alliance outperforming the industry average on the East-West alliance trades whilst THE Alliance significantly underperformed.
NEW AT CENTURY
Century is excited to announce our new ‘Country Spotlights’ series where we take a deep dive into the local markets, infrastructure, trade performance, and network capabilities of each country that features in the Century network.
During the release of each Country Spotlight, a new nation will take the spotlight as Century shares our detailed insight into its specific capabilities with the most up-to-date figures, statistical breakdowns, contemporary supply chain information and more to ensure that only the most relevant and valuable data is presented in a convenient, digestible format.
Our brand-new series begins with Germany; widely considered as the powerhouse of Europe, nestled in west of the continent, with direct access to shipping routes in the Atlantic Ocean and Baltic Sea. Germany boasts Europe’s highest GDP and is considered Europe’s highest export nation as well as Europe’s highest import nation.
Want to know more about Germany’s logistical capabilities and how Century’s Germany network can help keep your supply chains a step ahead of your competition? Download your copy of the Germany Country Profile, and all future countries featuring in the series, using the link HERE.
- Hapag-Lloyd has introduced “Ship Green”; its new biofuel-based solution for climate-friendly transportation that aims to make it easier for customers to reduce their environmental footprint and contribute to decarbonization. Customers can add Ship Green as an additional service to their existing bookings during the first rollout stage and can choose from three different options representing different levels of avoided carbon emissions: 100%, 50%, or 25% of their shipment’s ocean-leg emissions. The emissions avoidance is a result of using biofuel as an alternative to conventional marine fuel oil within Hapag-Lloyd’s fleet. The biofuel used in the solution is obtained from 2nd-generation feedstock sourced from certified supply chains and produced from waste materials, guaranteeing the exclusion of edible virgin oils. An emissions avoidance declaration will be available at the end of every quarter which verifies the total emissions prevented through Ship Green in the respective period. Ship Green is currently only available for dry cargo, however, Hapag-Lloyd has plans to expand the solution to other cargo types in the future.
- MSC has launched its new Shikra service, an inter-Asia service which aims to improve connectivity between the major ports in India and China via Southeast Asia. The new, independently managed service comes in response to the growing global demand on Asian markets as well as to enable MSC to provide greater flexibility to its customer base. In conjunction with the new launch, MSC’s Sentosa service has now been updated, with ports of call at Mundra, Nhava Sheva, and Colombo now being covered by the Shikra service. The first vessel of the new Shikra service departed Qingdao Port on May 23rd, 2023, with the full port rotation as follows: Qingdao – Shanghai – Ningbo – Kaohsiung – Shekou – Singapore – Colombo – Nhava Sheva – Mundra – Colombo – Port Klang – Singapore – Tanjung Pelepas – Vung Tau – Qingdao.
- CMA CGM will add a new port of call to its NEMO service in June of 2023 to include the Port of Ennore, India. The service, which connects Northern Europe and the Mediterranean with Oceania, is expanding its westbound port coverage to integrate a direct port of call in India starting from next month. The expansion will offer CMA CGM customers a rapid export connection service from India’s main commercial area in its southeast region directly to Europe, Australia, and Singapore, with a 22-day and 29-day transit time from Ennore to Valencia and London, respectively. The addition also aims to facilitate further growth of the automotive industry in Ennore as it combines with the city’s highly efficient rail connectivity to complement the area’s export capabilities. The updated port rotation is as follows: Ennore – Colombo – Malta – Valencia – London Gateway – Rotterdam – Hamburg – Antwerp – Le Havre – Fos Sur Mer – La Spezia – Malta – Pointe Des Galets – Port Louis – Sydney – Melbourne – Adelaide – Singapore – Ennore.
- Hamburg Süd has announced the termination of their South Seas Service effective from May 27th, 2023. The exit from this service, which has been in operation for many years, also comes in conjunction with the termination of Hamburg Sud’s vessel-sharing agreement with Swire Shipping. Despite the exit, Hamburg Sud has stated that they will ensure all customers using the South Seas Service are able to secure their future shipping operations on the service through Swire Shipping to avoid any business disruptions. Hamburg Sud’s final export vessel departure on the South Seas Service left Oakland, CA, on May 25th, with the final import departure set to sail from Pago Pago, American Samoa, on June 13th.
CENTURY EXPRESS – YOUR TRUSTED NVOCC PARTNER
Century Express holds contracts with multiple ocean carriers and helps you realize schedule flexibility for your shipments. With Century Express as your NVOCC partner, you will have complete visibility of your shipments in VIZIV as our NVOCC division leverages VIZIV as the operating platform. We also consolidate NVOCC invoicing with your existing invoicing, keeping the number of documents issued for multiple services transparent and at a minimum. We engage with each carrier alliance and other independent carriers to ensure that we can provide choices and backup options to our customers. In addition, you can even leverage our LCL freight forwarding services to explore new sourcing opportunities in countries where you are not currently shipping to/from or have a contracted carrier. Contact your Century Representative today to learn more!
- In Eastern China, the estimated vessel waiting time is between 0.5 and 2.5 days at the NBTCT terminal in Ningbo due to berthing congestion caused by the handling of a large number of mega vessels. In Qingdao, average berth waiting time is 0.5 to 1.5 days due to bad weather, subsequent port closures, and vessel bunching around the port.
- Port of Savannah waiting time is up to 2 days depending on vessel size. Gate turn times are currently averaging 27 minutes for single transactions and 41 minutes for double transactions. Berth capacity remains limited during the port’s major two-year reconstruction project, which is now expected to be completed in July 2023.
- At the Port of Charleston, the average wait for berthing at Wando Welch Terminal is currently 2 days whilst no waiting time is expected at the North Charleston Terminal. Sunday gates have been revived but are by appointment only. Growth at this port is expected to continue following the acquisition of the drayage and warehousing business serving the port, ATS Logistics, by middle-market private equity firm NOVA Infrastructure. The firm has touted the potential of the port after recording a Y/Y 2.7% cargo activity growth to 2.57 million TEUs. The acquisition is set to triple ATS Logistics’ intermodal revenue.
- The California twin ports of LA and Long Beach have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to establish a green and digital shipping corridor along the critical trans-Pacific trade lane. The corridor will be supported by the, C40 Cities; a climate leadership group network consisting of 96 participating cities around the world, including Portland, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Shenzhen, and Los Angeles, dedicated to taking action against climate change. The MOU is expected to spur the development of green growth opportunities in the maritime industry by supporting a transition to decarbonization and is a step towards achieving their target of zero-emissions by 2050. The agreement also aims to identify digital shipping solutions during its pilot which can be used to develop standards and optimum practices for green ports and the bunkering of alternative fuels. The C40 cities will assume the role of facilitators for the green shipping corridor, providing the cities, ports, and partners involved with support through coordination, facilitation, organizational, and communications assistance. The new green corridor becomes the second longest in the world behind the Singapore-Rotterdam green corridor which was established in August of 2022.
- Five of California’s largest ports, Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, Oakland, and Hueneme have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to launch the California Port Data Partnership. The MOU intends to better co-ordinate freight movement and address the lack of visibility between West Coast ports, which was one of the key factors behind the supply chain chaos they witnessed in 2021. The data-sharing partnership aims to advance a cloud-based system that standardizes data and improves cargo fluidity. The framework contains 11 areas of co-operation for the collaborative data system, including developing data definitions and ensuring users have equitable access to data. USD $27 million funding for the data system has been made available and will be split between the five ports as grants. The eventual data-sharing system cannot be used to track or monitor port laborers on metrics such as productivity, according to the state funding law, nor can it be utilized to infringe on laborer’s ability to collectively bargain with ports.
- The Panama Canal Authority (PCA) implemented further draft restrictions along the canal in late May, 2023, in response to a 50% drop in rainfall from February to April compared to the historic average. By July, water shortages in Lake Gatun, the center of the canal, are anticipated to surpass the record low water depths set in 2019. The dry weather is forecasted to continue with the imminent onset of El Niño. As of May 29th, Neo-Panamax vessels are only permitted drafts of up to 13.41 meters, meaning some larger vessels are traversing the canal with 40% less cargo in order to sufficiently cut their weight. LNG carriers are less affected by the draft restrictions due to special concessions. At least four ocean carriers have announced surcharges in light of the draft restrictions with new weight limits and container fees, between USD $300 and $500 per box, to be imposed on relevant goods. The new measures could cost importers and retailers using the Panama Canal an extra USD $1,500 per container.
Please refer to the below illustration of Century’s assessment of the operating status at the major origin ports throughout Asia.
- In Oregon, The Portland Bureau of Transportation has launched a “Zero-Emissions Delivery Zone” pilot program designed to incentivize more sustainable modes of transportation during deliveries and align with the city’s climate-related values. The program will allow diesel- and gas-powered delivery trucks to transfer goods to zero-emissions vehicles, such as electric trucks and vans, which can then make deliveries at three zero-emissions loading zones outside government buildings in the city’s downtown area which are off-limits to gas-powered vehicles. Fossil fuel powered vehicles will still be able to operate in the area during the program, however, they will be limited to regular metered parking spaces and existing loading zones outside of the designated pilot area. The program is funded by a nearly USD $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s SMART Grants program and will be tested for six to nine months from May 2023. Data will be collected from logistics companies, sensors, and third-party analytics firms, with any changes being made to Portland’s truck loading zones as a result of the pilot not anticipated to occur until Spring 2024.
- On May 4th, 2023, the state of Washington passed House Bill 1762, a new law, generally targeted at large distribution centers, which provides warehouse workers with protections against productivity quotas. The legislation requires employers to provide their employees with detailed information regarding warehouse quotas such as explaining and justifying adverse actions for failing to meet quotas, incentives for meeting or exceeding quotas, and any updates or changes to quotas. Warehouse quotas are also now required to factor in time needed for worker rest and meal breaks, restroom breaks, and sufficient time to responsibly access tools and safety equipment. Warehouse productivity quotas have previously been criticized for facilitating a workplace environment that is negligible to workers’ safety, and so the new law focuses on greater regulation over quotas in the interest of worker wellbeing. Washington becomes the third state to pass legislation pertaining to the protection of warehouse workers against productivity quotas, following New York and California.
Asia Pacific Local Update:
- The Australian Government has announced its commitment to developing a Maritime Emissions Reduction National Action Plan (MERNAP) to help transition the country’s maritime sector towards eco-friendly operations. The plan, which will also be implemented in conjunction with maritime industries from other APEC nations, will be developed in consultation with industry experts and will focus on lowering carbon emissions towards net-zero in ships visiting Australian waters. The plan will be developed over the course of the next 12 months and intends to incorporate collaboration from other Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation nations, via their ports and transport agencies, towards decarbonizing shipping by 2050. The final MERNAP is expected to be delivered for approval by the Australian Government in mid-2024.
- Cambodia has awarded the contract to construct its USD $1.5 billion multi-purpose seaport in the southwestern province of Kampot to China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC). After securing the construction contract on May 5th, 2023, CHEC will work on the 15-year project with Kampot Logistics and Port Company. Chinese contractors on the project also include Shanghai Construction Group and the China Road and Bridge Corporation. The project has been divided into three phases, with the first phase set to cost USD $200 million and be completed by 2025. Upon completion, the port will become Cambodia’s second deep water international port, with a capacity of 300,000 TEUs by 2025 which will then double by 2030, while including a container terminal, oil refinery, logistics hub, special economic zone, and free trade area.
- Pakistan is experiencing an increasingly worsening equipment supply situation over the last few days due to lack of imports into the country. Operations in the northern locations (ICDs) have so far been impacted the most. As carriers struggle to bring empty containers into Pakistan, some have started charging a forceful repositing fee / placement charge. As of May 29th, 2023, the situation has become relatively stable for 40S container availability, however, 20S equipment remains scarce. In light of this shortage, a lead time of 5-7 days is currently required for securing 20S empties. Century’s local team is working closely with all container yards in Pakistan to ensure that equipment is available as needed for our customers’ shipments. In some cases, the 40S equipment may be used instead of 20S containers to ensure cargo moves without delay.
Trade and Economic Highlights:
- China has deepened its ties in Latin America through signing a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Ecuador on May 11th, 2023. The FTA is set to boost Ecuador’s non-oil exports by roughly a third (or USD $3 – $4 billion) over the next decade according to the Trade Ministry. Already Ecuador’s largest non-oil trading partner, China has become Ecuador’s most important financial partner over the last 10 years with major construction projects and loans being funded through Chinese banks. The deal will give preferential access for 99% of Ecuadorian exports destined for China, particularly agricultural and agro-industrial products such as bananas, cocoa, coffee, and shrimp. The FTA, which is still pending ratification by Ecuador’s national assembly, adds to China’s existing FTAs in Latin America with the likes of Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru.
- The Free Trade Agreement between the UK and New Zealand will come into force effective May 31st, 2023. The FTA will eventually eliminate more than 97% of tariffs on New Zealand exports to the UK including goods such as wine, honey, and onions. The FTA is anticipated to save New Zealand exporters roughly USD $37 million a year in removed tariffs and grow the country’s economy by USD $1 billion annually. New Zealand exports in the meat and dairy industry will be phased into the FTA over time, with sheep meat and beef commodities anticipated to take up to 15 years for tariffs to be fully removed whilst dairy products will not be tariff free for another five years. In the meantime, goods within these two categories will enjoy duty-free quotas with volumes that will gradually increase over time as they transition towards becoming completely tariff-free. The FTA also includes commitments to address and remove subsidies for goods which are considered environmentally harmful and trade distorting, such as fossil fuels and overfished stocks.
Besides our suite of tools in VIZIV that power your supply chains every day, the following solutions we offer provide you with alternatives to maximize the efficiency in your supply chain operations and mitigate the ongoing industry challenges.
- Warehouse Storage – Besides the normal CFS cargo flow through our warehouse network, we can also work with you to take on dedicated storage space to accept vendor deliveries based on their production schedules. This can help to alleviate pressure at vendor facilities while also ensuring that your cargo can be dispatched as soon as carrier space becomes available.
- Value-Added Services – The wide range of value-added services we provide at origin CFS, such as pick and pack, consolidation, labeling, and palletization gives you a one-stop solution for greater supply chain efficiency. Century can build direct store loads from our Asia CFS facilities to bypass transloads/DCs and streamline inbound delivery.
- Origin Trucking Solution – With support from your carriers, we can arrange trucking to alternate ports where carrier space may be more readily available, allowing for greater flexibility in space planning to achieve forecasted departure dates.
- Destination Services – Our physical network in North America extends beyond the primary shipping hubs in California. Our coverage in the Pacific Northwest and the East Coast gives you alternative storage and transload options, as well as other destination services such as pick and pack and cross-dock services throughout the United States and Canada. As needed, we can leverage the capabilities of our sister companies within the Sun Capital portfolio to offer customers an increasingly flexible and expansive destination network. Sun’s recent acquisition of TTSI, a leader in port and rail drayage in North America, has significantly boosted our resource capabilities close to all major East Coast ports and Texas, offering asset-based drayage, transload capabilities, dedicated fleet and final mile deliveries, pooled distribution, cross-docking and value-added warehousing services from which our customers can now benefit.
- Customs Clearance & Brokerage – Our team of licensed brokers and compliance experts will handle your documentation and clearance process directly with US Customs. As your trusted trade compliance partner, we help you avoid costly delays at the border and penalties for misfiling.
Talk to your Century Account Manager or contact a sales representative today today to understand how we can develop a customized solution to meet your supply chain needs! We will continue to work together with your teams to navigate these unique shipping times through every step in the supply chain.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this newsletter was provided by our partners across Asia and referenced from online sources that were not specifically authorized for third-party usage. The aim of this publication is for informational purposes only. While Century endeavors to validate the authenticity of the stipulated information, Century is not responsible for its accuracy and completeness and does not accept liability or responsibility for any actions taken upon reliance.
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